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NEWS UPDATES 24 July 2010

ASEAN meetings end on high note

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HA NOI — The 43rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and the 17th ASEAN Regional Forum (AFF) wound up in Ha Noi yesterday after five days of intense debate, according to Viet Nam News. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Gia Khiem said at the closing ceremony that this year's meeting had been lively and beneficial. Khiem said those attending the meeting could be proud of the significant progress made at this year's event and that they had all worked successfully towards building a stronger Asean community.

Ministers supported the determination to expedite the effective implementation of the "Asean Community Roadmap" and desire to promote a "culture of compliance" with all Asean agreements, he said.

During the meeting, ministers discussed a first draft of the "Master Plan on Asean Connectivity", which will provide a framework for strengthening Asean co-operation and the building of an EU-like community.

"We will continue to consider the revised draft before submitting it to the 17th Asean Summit," Khiem said.

He commended the efforts of the Asean Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) to finalise a five-year "Work Plan".

Ministers reaffirmed the role of the AICHR as an overarching institution for regional co-operation on human rights and the need for the commission to ensure effective dialogue and co-operation on peace, stability and prosperity in the region, he said. "In pursuit of a people-centred community, we agreed to develop a master communication plan synergising all communication plans in three pillars in order to enhance our people's awareness and participation in the community-building process."

During the ARF meeting, Khiem said ministers had emphasised that peace, stability and co-operation on development remained the region's shared goal.

ARF participants reiterated their support for regional co-operation and dialogue and stressed the importance of regional peace and stability. Delegates also reaffirmed their support for the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation in Southeast Asia (TAC), the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea.

ARF participants expressed their support for Asean's centrality and welcomed the region's efforts to promote deeper co-operation within Southeast Asia and dialogue with Russia and the US.

Ministers hailed the convening of the first Asean Defence Minister's "Plus with Eight Dialogue Partners" in 2010, which underscored the importance of the planned Aseansenior defence officials meeting.

Delegates also discussed political developments in Myanmar and the country's "Roadmap for Democracy" ahead of the upcoming general election. They reiterated the importance of holding fair and free elections, which they said would pave the way for Myanmar's long-term stability and development.

Ministers also stressed the importance of maintaining peace, security and stability in the East Sea, and reaffirmed their support for the effective implementation of the "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea" and the conclusion of a "Regional Code of Conduct in the East Sea".

ARF participants agreed and adopted the Ha Noi Plan of Action on the implementation of the "ARF Vision Statement".

On the final day of the meetings, ASEAN foreign ministers attended the signing ceremony for the Instrument of Accession to the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation by Canada and Turkey. They also signed the third protocol allowing EU accession.

At a press briefing afterwards, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: "I took the opportunity, along with a number of my ASEAN and ARF colleagues, to set my government's position on issues governing the security and prosperity of the region and the East Sea."

She said the United States put great store on freedom of navigation, open access to Asia's maritime commerce and respect for international law.

Clinton said she was opposed to the use or threat of force but that the US would not take sides in territorial disputes. She said territorial claims to maritime space should be conducted in line with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. She said the US supported the 2002 ASEAN-China declaration on the conduct of parties in the East Sea.

Clinton added that the normalisation of relations between the US and Viet Nam was "a lesson to all."

Khiem told the press that the community was united in its willingness to invite Russia and the US join the East Asia Forum.

The ADMM+8 (China, South Korea, Japan, India, New Zealand, Russia, the US and Australia) is scheduled to take place in October. (Tags, politics, Asean)

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